“Whoever knows he is deep, strives for clarity; whoever would like to appear deep to the crowd, strives for obscurity. For the crowd considers anything deep if only it cannot see to the bottom: the crowd is so timid and afraid of going into the water.” – Friedric Nietzche

I must be fair and state again, perhaps more clearly, her words were not bad. Her words were not attacking even if they made me sad.

As those have read it have told me, they were incredible and honest. I should be (and I am) thankful she is so open and sharing with me. That I am. As Margie indicated, her email was the best expression of the complexity and fragmentation of adoptee experience that I have ever seen.

Sure she threw some daggers at me, but I believe she had to in order to make her point. Things like “you are not my mother”, “your sons are not my brothers and it makes me sad when you refer to them as such” startled me but when taken in context of her full email, it is understandable.

My sadness and confusion is not ultimately rooted in what she said to me but in me, in my reaction, in my expectations, or something. It is about me. That is what I am struggling with.

The only thing that I have come up with – to date – and it could be totally off is that there is nothing actionable. She shared her very valid thoughts and feelings and I am left feeling “Okay, what next? What does this mean? What do I do with this?” .

I simply don’t know.

Maybe I do nothing.

Let me explain in a different way.

In my professional life I am paid very well to turn executive speak into words the common worker can understand.

For example when an executive gives me something like this

“After extensive analysis of the economic factors facing our industry, we have concluded that a restructuring is essential to maintaining competitive position. A task force has been assembled…”

Or this:

“This is just the kind of synergistic, customer-centric, upsell-driven, out-of-the-box, customizable, strategically tactical, best-of-breed thought leadership that will help our clients track to true north. Let’s fly this up the flagpole and see where the pushback is.”

My first reaction is to ask him what the hell does that mean? What exactly do you want people to do with that statement? What are you hiding in all those big stupid words? Can we avoid jargon and obscurity and just speak in plain English? What are you really trying to say? Sum it up to me in one sentence.  He or she does and I turn the first example into this:

“Our profits are down and we will need to lay off a few staff members”

or this:

“This is a great idea. Lets discuss further and see if it is something we can implement”

I found myself feeling confused in reading and re-reading her email. While wonderfully written and honest and raw, I don’t know what I am supposed to take from it. I don’t know what she is asking me, if anything.

What does it really mean? Is there an actionable item here? Is she asking me something? Am I supposed to do something with this?

I just don’t know.

And I don’t like not knowing.

3 Thoughts.

  1. Hi Suz,
    I can only speak from my experience as an adoptee but maybe it can offer you some insight.
    While I do have a bond with B., I don’t feel like she is my mother in the flowery Mother’s Day sense of the word. I do feel a connection in that she gave birth to me and we look and act alike. It is difficult to explain but it is more than a friendship but less than a parent. Does that make sense?
    I get a little freaked when B. or my maternal aunt signs off a letter or email with “love”. It is difficult for me to have feelings when we have all only known each other for such a short time. That could just be me though.
    I would have to say we all are still getting to know each other even after 2 years in reunion. A life time of separation doesn’t get repaired quickly.
    As an adoptee, I think that she opened the door slightly but has to set some boundaries that make her feel comfortable. It may not be what you want to hear but I think she is telling you what works for her at this point.
    I can tell you that if she didn’t have an interest she wouldn’t bother to respond to you at all. I don’t know the specifics but is it possible to back it up a bit? I hate to say it but reunion is a little like dating or trying to get a bird to sit on your hand. Small steps and no sudden moves.
    You have my email so if I can offer any other insight let me know.

  2. Hi Suz,
    I kept coming back to your blog today… I wanted to read more and see if there were any updates and I’m glad I checked one more time before going to bed :).
    Your daughter’s sentiments are a little hard for me to identify with, because I simply do not feel the way she feels. I feel that my mother is my mother and that I desperately want her to feel that way back. It shattered me earlier this year when she told me I wasn’t her daughter. That I just came out of her uterus, but that didn’t make me her daughter. Thank goodness I think it was only anger speaking. I’m rambling but I wanted to say that regardless of how clear I am on this now, I didn’t always feel this way.
    Despite always wanting her in my life… And unconsciously seeking a mother figure for a lot of my life… For a very long time I was very certain that if I found her all we could ever have was a friendship at the most. I wanted the control in the relationship. I wanted to set the boundaries, make the rules, decide what she could or couldn’t be and what she could and couldn’t be a part of. I wanted her to be the archetypal mother who loved me unconditionally and was always there, waiting in the wings, but who I could summon when I wanted her, and cast off when I didn’t want her. This even surprises me as I write this, but this is truly where I was at! When she told me she loved me the first time, it was strange. A part of me was delighted and obsessed over this for a few days. But the other part of me was freaked out. I didn’t feel it back, I didn’t know her! So certainly didn’t say it back. When she’d refer to me as her daughter, I felt that was far too presumptuous on her part… I thought she had no right… She didn’t know me, she didn’t know the first thing about me, she didn’t know of my achievements, or my struggles or my angst, yet she’d just stand there and introduce me as her daughter. I felt supremely uncomfortable. At first there were also physical feelings that accompanied this feeling.
    Fortunately and unfortunately circumstances and my mother’s personally forced me out of this pretty quick.
    But even know when I say she is my mother, I am aware that this feeling is most likely coming from a place of need within me. A place of need and also my lived experience, wehreby I need a mother and need her to be my mother. So I guess I identify with you there, you saying it’s about you (not what she said as such, as she is entitled to her feelings). When my mother made her uterus comment instead of understanding that it is actually a valid point and one she’s entitled to, I felt intense personal rejection. Yet at the end of the day, she’s my mother because I feel she is. Just as your daughter is your daughter because you feel she is. She doesn’t have to agree or feel the same way for your feeling of her as that to be valid.
    I empathise with your not knowing what to do next or what she wants.
    Sorry for the ramble. I hope it wasn’t too off the point or selfish in nature. Just a blah (spewing out words) moment.
    Best wishes and thinking of you xo.

  3. You are already doing the next thing Suz. You are struggling with new dialogue, new expressions, new views of yourself and your daughter. You’ve had this relationship in your imagination and now it’s more reality. The real rocks in the road are under your feet now. The unknown is revealing greater things. She may declare you’re not her mother. Words have power, but saying I’m millionaire doesn’t make it true. You are one of her mothers and you’re learning what that means.

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